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Barboza: Read The Landscape

“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality,” writes Susan Sontag in On Photography. “One can't possess reality, one can possess images — one can't possess the present, but one can possess the past.”

I think about this a lot when I pull out my phone to capture something for posterity, for Instagram, for sharing with someone else when I want to remember that one meal I had in Vienna or that strange tree in a park I saw in Stockholm. It’s a touchpoint that makes me an aware photographer: Why am I collecting this image? What am I trying to possess? What reality do I want to imprison?

I’m also reminded of this in looking at Peruvian artist Ana Teresa Barboza’s works. I came to them through My Modern Met, and what strikes me is how Barboza plays with different media — especially fabric and textiles — to create something other than the sum of their parts (a principle of Gestalt design, our natural psychological way of perceiving things as humans). Landscape embroideries burst and tumble out of their hoops, seemingly in a state of unbecoming once the move past the frame. Of special interest is her series Read the Landscape, which combine photographs of natural scenes with embroidery thread.

Somehow, Barboza goes beyond doing it for the Gram with these images. Adding something tactile to them, something that often spills off the canvas of cloth, makes them more dynamic. The memories the photos represent are multidimensional. The platform of reality can’t be solidified because it’s always shifting, changing, unfurling. Much like reality itself. 

Today’s Contemplation: What realities in your life seem “fixed”? What realities are you trying to imprison, through photography or otherwise? What would happen if you settled into the moment — this moment — realizing that it, too, will pass?